I didn’t have to complete an elective as part of my degree, so I thought an overseas placement near the end of my second year at university was a good time to go.
When it came to the placement itself, I wanted to see different areas in cardiology that I wouldn’t have seen on placement in the UK.
The atmosphere in the Work the World house was always buzzing. Living in a house with more than 30 other people in it was a lovely feeling. There were communal areas throughout the house where different groups of housemates gathered. In the evenings, we played cards and watched films together.
Living with a range of healthcare students training in different professions was great. I learned a lot about their different degree courses and how they were taught in the UK and elsewhere.
I chose to do a paediatric cardiology placement for my first week in hospital. In the UK I had not yet experienced working in a paediatric department. At the end of my first day, I realised that the local doctors wanted me to learn much more about paediatric conditions than I already knew.
So, that evening I went back to the house and researched some of the cases that came up during the day.
My housemates were great at talking to me about experiences they’d had with paediatric conditions. This really helped me to prepare for day two.
I occasionally stayed a little longer at the hospital so I could see afternoon surgeries, or to sit in on the afternoon teaching sessions.
All the staff I encountered were helpful and welcoming. They were very understanding of us, and helped us to try to see as many things as possible. They encouraged us, and gave us opportunities to experience more as and when we wanted them.
After finishing placement for the day, we filled our evenings going to local tourist attractions in Kandy and surrounding areas. We went to the Temple of the Tooth, the white Buddha (on top of a hill overlooking the city), a tea factory, and went for drinks in the nearby bars and hotels.
There were helpful notice boards throughout the Work the World house with information on local activities and places to visit further afield in Sri Lanka.
One weekend, a group of us went to Galle in the south of Sri Lanka. The group that I was going with went by car and I followed them down a few hours later because I wanted to take the train. The train journey was 6 hours, but the views were absolutely breathtaking.
Once I got off the train in Galle, I headed to the hotel we were staying in. The weekend involved group meals at restaurants, spending time on the beach, exploring the fort as well as whale watching.
On the Sunday, we arranged to stop off at a turtle Sanctuary on the way back to Kandy. The turtle sanctuary was amazing, and the tour guide explained the history of turtles in Galle and why the sanctuary was set up. He also talked us through the different stages of the turtles’ development. We even held three-day-old turtles, which was something else!
Another weekend we visited yala national safari park. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in Tissa, close to the park. The safari trucks picked us up from our hotel and took us to the safari park.
On the safari itself, we saw ox, deer, crocodiles, birds, elephants and many other small animals. We even went for a quick break on a private beach that lead into the ocean.
The whole experience surpassed my expectations.